The morning following the Yotaka festival, Fukuno parades its four ‘hikiyama’, or wheeled floats, through the town. With most people exhausted and likely nursing hang-overs from the previous night’s revelries, this matsuri sees few visitors, which is a terrible shame as the floats are trully magnificent.
The festival begins with the four floats being wheeled from their respective districts to meet up at the main crossroad in town
where all the own’s dignitaries are waiting. The festival begins with the usual speeches by the mayor and local leaders, followed by a very traditional performance by local artists
With no young people around, the festival feels very ‘old folky’, but is nevertheless a great chance to see some of the more traditional aspects of Japanese culture.
The artists then lead the convoy of hikiyama down to the local temple
Of course,with no young people around, its the job of the older guys to pull the hikiyama, which can weigh up to five tonnes…
Once they have arrived at the temple and parked
the local shinto priests perform their ritual blessings on the hikyama and town’s citizens (don’t forget a matsuri, although a festival, is also always a religious event and this part is a key component of any festival and one taken extremely seriously by participants).
As always, the shinto ceremony ends with a toast of sake to the gods…
Once the blessing ceremony is completed, the hikiyama will begin their tour around the town. However, with another festival to rush off to, it was time for me to leave at this junction.
Nevertheless, despite its very low-key tone (a shame, if the Yotaka festival hadn’t been on the night before there would have been lots of spectators), I was glad to have stayed on to catch this festival as it was both colourful and really interesting.
Total foreign tourist attendance apart from me: 0